For the first time, Democrat Steve Lindbeck is coming out swinging in his race against Rep. Don Young.
Lindbeck has been running against Rep. Don Young for two months now. Don’t feel bad if that comes as a surprise or reminder of a piece of information that had fallen into the deep recesses of your memory. He hasn’t exactly been in the public eye while launching his campaign, spending his first two months barnstorming the state for small group campaigning, setting up his campaign infrastructure, and quietly fundraising.
That phase of the campaign appears to be over and the fight — any race against the irascible Young will be a fight — is on.
Yesterday, maritime unions sent out a media advisory of a press conference they were holding this morning in Anchorage announcing an ad campaign to fight Alyeska Pipeline Services Co’s move to award a contract covering tanker escorts and oil spill response to unionized Louisiana-based Edison Chouest, rather than their current unionized contractor Crowley.
If you’d like to know more on the issue, here is their press release .
A few hours later Lindbeck launched a broadside against Young over the issue saying:
“It was bad enough to learn that a Louisiana company plans to fire Alaskans and replace them with Louisianans. But now we learn that Don Young, according to his spokesman, is ‘not weighing in’ to stop the loss of the Alaska jobs. Family members and employees of this Louisiana company have given Congressman Young $297,400 over his last five elections. It’s shocking. That’s more than his next five biggest contributors combined. No wonder Don Young is refusing to oppose this tragic loss of Alaska jobs.”
Lindbeck’s campaign also sent out this spreadsheet showing over 100 donations from Edison Chouest to Young since 2008 totaling $297,400.
Interestingly, Lindbeck’s campaign also sent representatives to the unions’ press conference to distribute copies of his attack on Young and the unions’ press conference organizer Jamie Horowitz actively directed media members in attendance to it.
The maritime unions are trying to save their jobs, and that is a noble and indeed newsworthy fight (no doubt several will be leaving Crowley for upcoming open positions with Edison Chouest). At The Midnight Sun, however, we follow the politics, and the politics here run deep.
One of the key challenges to any Democrat running against Young is his strong support from labor. Young regularly either gets or splits the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, and his long-time Campaign Manager Jerry Hood is the former Teamsters Local 959 CEO.
Young’s ability to garner the support of labor while holding on to his appeal among fiscal, social, and business conservatives is largely what has made him invulnerable at the ballot box despite a penchant for remarks many view as either out of touch or offensive.
With unions either supporting Young or staying on the sidelines, candidates like Ethan Berkowitz, Harry Crawford, and Forrest Dunbar never came close to ousting Young.
Lindbeck’s attack on Young over the Edison Chouest contract is clearly an attempt to pry labor support away from Young by painting him as choosing “big oil” and corporate donors over the working people of Alaska.
In a press release sent out last night Lindbeck said:
“As Alaska’s congressman, I will never sell out Alaskan workers. Congressman Young should have done everything in his power to save these jobs instead of pocketing over a quarter million dollars in campaign checks. Staying silent and allowing the outsourcing of Alaska jobs to Louisiana by a company that’s given you nearly $300,000 should be a firing offense.”
Young has so far been mostly silent on the issue and the attacks from Lindbeck.
Young’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story, but The Alaska Dispatch News reported:
“Matt Shuckerow, press secretary for Young, said it’s not appropriate for Young to voice his opinion on a private contract that Alyeska is negotiating.”
“Not weighing in is the appropriate thing to do,” he said. “This is a decision for a private corporation to make.”
AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami said in an interview this afternoon he expects this issue to figure in his membership’s decision on who to endorse. “It will definitely color the conversation,” Beltrami said. “I know Steve Lindbeck is trying to get to know everybody he can in the labor movement and make some inroads. So I imagine it will be part of the conversation.”
A Lindbeck staffer at this morning’s Union press conference said to expect a press conference from the campaign in the next 24 hours, so this fight has just begun.